I’ve always marked the beginning of summer with the Willamette Valley Folk Festival, which always occurs the third weekend in May. Now, thanks to the Eugene Marathon, summer can begin in Eugene two weeks earlier. That’s only fair, because the official end of summer has always been marked by the Eugene Celebration and that event has been moved from the second half of September to the first half. So fair is fair. The Eugene Marathon was a sight to behold. If you’ve never seen 6000 people of all shapes and sizes (eventually) running down the main street between you and your neighborhood grocery store, you haven’t lived. Well, OK, you’ve lived. But what else do you have to say for yourself? I think the pairing of the Marathon with the elite event that the Prefontaine Classic has become (one month later) sends a powerful message. The first is all about finishing. Everyone is invited and the times don’t matter but for a few. Finishing is the accomplishment. For the latter, the accomplishment is in being invited, being allowed to start. So in life. Having the opportunity to start a venture or project indicates a certain giftedness, even if the gift is two arms and legs, or the lungs and heart that turn oxygen into energy. Finishing is the least we can do, to express our gratitude.